Video: Crisis deepens as famine spreads to Somali capital
Published 04/08/2011 | 05:00
THREE new areas of Somalia, including parts of Mogadishu, are now in famine.
Camps for displaced people in and near the capital were among the worst hit, the UN-sponsored Famine Early Warning Network said.
Two rural areas far from the city, Balcad and Cadalei, had also tipped into 'Phase-5 famine' the group said, adding: "Despite increased attention, the humanitarian response remains inadequate.
"This is due in part to ongoing access restrictions and difficulties in scaling up emergency assistance programmes, as well as funding gaps.
"As a result, famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming weeks and is likely to persist until at least December."
Rifts within Somalia's Islamist insurgency raised hopes of increased food deliveries to areas previously off-limits.
There is a "very active" debate over allowing in supplies between al-Shabaab's moderates and its hardliners, some of whom are linked to al-Qa'ida, sources said.
"I think the momentum is now with the pragmatists who are saying let the aid agencies in because of the gravity of the situation," said Rashid Abdi, the International Crisis Group's Horn of Africa analyst.
"The clan elders are also putting a lot of pressure on al-Shabaab, saying we cannot let our people die, if you continue on this crazy path we will rise up against you.
"The writing is on the wall for al-Shabaab, they will have no choice but to let the aid in."
Agreements to deliver humanitarian relief have been made with some of the group's field commanders, far from its leadership in Mogadishu and the southern town of Kismayo. (© Daily Telegraph, London)